A line of sight studio transmitter link for about $1500…
One of the hardest problems to solve for community radio stations on a tight budget is the Studio Transmitter Link ( known as an STL). Small community radio stations often have their studio and transmitter in the same location. Audio comes out of the mixer, and is connected to the FM transmitter with a cable. For many reasons, it is often much better for the transmitter to be in a different location from the studio. Some reasons include
• Location of the transmitter on top of a hill for maximum coverage, and the studio downtown for maximum public access
• Location of a communications tower that does not have space available for a studio
• Location of a transmitter in a state permitted location
• Flexibility for space rentals
In the US, for one reason or another, the vast majority of radio studios must be physically separate from their tower site, using a Studio Transmitter Link, or STL. Traditionally, we use microwave based STLs in the USA in the 900 MHz range of channels, which can cost $10,000 or more to implement.
Some stations use the Internet and computers for streaming, but the results can be disappointing… Unless you have a dedicated, industrial grade connection, you often get dropouts and “buffering.”
However, low power radio advocates have been experimenting for the last 7 years with using commercially available Wifi gear and encoders to build reliable studio transmitter links over reasonable distances. We have generally been able to implement Wifi based links for under $1000, with impressive, reliable results.
Coming soon to a page near this, a handbook on building links using wifi equipment!